- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

National

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said the United States will “do what it takes” to maintain confidence in financial markets and defended the bailout of Bear Stearns Cos. as “the right decision.” He sidestepped questions about whether other firms are on shaky ground and the prospects of additional bailouts.• The U.S. dollar plunged to a fresh record low against the euro and to the weakest level in 12 years against the yen in Asian trade today amid growing worries about the U.S. economy, dealers said. An emergency rate cut by the Federal Reserve only added to the sense of crisis after the near-collapse of Bear Stearns, they said. The dollar fell to as low as 96.57 yen, a level not seen since September 1995, while the euro hit a fresh lifetime high of 1.5808 dollars.• Microsoft Corp. has licensed Adobe Systems Inc. software for viewing online videos and other files on cell phones, the companies said. Microsoft will distribute Flash Lite and Reader programs from Adobe to cell-phone makers who use its Windows Mobile software. Flash also allows users to interact with more Web sites.

International

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd., the country’s largest carrier, said it agreed to buy four Boeing 777-200ER aircraft for delivery in 2012 and 2013. The total cost, including items such as replacement parts, will be $540 million, the airline said.

• The Bank of Israel bought dollars last week after the shekel strengthened against most world currencies, indicating the local foreign currency market wasn’t “anchored well,” Governor Stanley Fischer said. The decision to buy dollars and weaken the shekel has been “successful,” Mr. Fischer said.

Air France-KLM Group, the world’s largest airline by sales, agreed to buy Alitalia SpA in a bid valued at $1.2 billion as part of the Italian government’s plan to save the unprofitable carrier from bankruptcy. Air France-KLM will swap one of its shares for every 160 of Alitalia’s.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza among chickens at a poultry retail market in Liwan in the neighboring province of Guangzhou, the Hong Kong government said. Hong Kong said it will bar the import live birds, poultry and related products from within an 8-mile radius of the market.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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